The fragmentation of national school systems

n° 76, december 2017

At a time when there is much discussion about globalization and the unifying power of international organizations such as the OECD, is it not paradoxical to speculate that education systems are becoming fragmented? This article and dossier show that it is not. They argue that the fragmentation of national school systems – or the obstacles to the processes of unifying these systems – can be explained by several globalized phenomena. Some of these problematize national compromises on educational outcomes and models, while others encourage international networks of schools at a remove from the national model. Thus, each national education system now has a tendency to fragment in two respects, one of which is linked to social stratification and the other to the differentiation of educational models and projects. It is not currently possible to predict whether this fragmentation will endure and mark the end of national school systems or whether it will lead to the reconfiguration of unified systems.

An issue coordinated by Anne Barrère, Université Paris Descartes, and Bernard Delvaux, Université catholique de Louvain.

Abstracts

 

International news

  • Online resources
    Federica Minichiello
    Compétences socio-émotionnelles : recherches et initiatives

  • Update on international education news
    Damien Larrouqué
    De Boston à Caacupé : l’échec international du projet One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

  • Insights into international education systems
    Yvette Gharib, Nisrine Hamdan Saadé
    L’enseignement supérieur au Liban : un paysage complexe

    Abdoulaye Ngom
    L’école sénégalaise d’hier à aujourd’hui : entre ruptures et mutations.

  • Reviews
    Maroussia Raveaud
    M in the Middle,
    Elèves de l’école Limpsfield Grange et Vicky Martin, Londres, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017.

    La Différence invisible, Mademoiselle Caroline, Julie Dachez, Paris, Delcourt / Mirages, 2016.

    Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Understanding Life Experiences from Early Childhood to Old Age, Sarah Hendrickx, Londres, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2016.


    Abdoulaye Elimane Kane
    La Fraternité réveillée, Jordi Riba et Patrice Vermeren (sous la direction de), 2014, L'Harmattan, 213 p.


    Daniel Coste
    et le monde parlera français, Roger Pilhion et Marie-Laure Poletti, Iggybbok.com, 2017, 450 p.


    Xavier Pons
    Populism, Media and Education. Challenging discrimination in contemporary digital societies, Ranieri Maria (ed.), London, Routledge, 2016.

 

Dossier
Introduction
The fragmentation of national school systems in the era of globalization
Anne Barrère, Bernard Delvaux
At a time when there is much discussion about globalization and the unifying power of international organizations such as the OECD, is it not paradoxical to speculate that education systems are becoming fragmented? This article and dossier show that it is not. They argue that the fragmentation of national school systems – or the obstacles to the processes of unifying these systems – can be explained by several globalized phenomena. Some of these problematize national compromises on educational outcomes and models, while others encourage international networks of schools at a remove from the national model. Thus, each national education system now has a tendency to fragment in two respects, one of which is linked to social stratification and the other to the differentiation of educational models and projects. It is not currently possible to predict whether this fragmentation will endure and mark the end of national school systems or whether it will lead to the reconfiguration of unified systems.

Montessori teaching around the world
The internal diversity of an expanding network

Marie-Laure Viaud
The number of Montessori schools is increasing in countries right across the world. This article studies how a hundred such schools present themselves in order to show that they are very diverse. In a context of increasingly consumeristic attitudes towards school and the development of new education-conscious middle classes in emerging countries, the international success of this pedagogy lies in the fact that it is based on the use of very concrete material, which makes it immediately comprehensible, and that, of all the new pedagogies, it is the least subversive and the most socially acceptable. Above all, this pedagogy succeeds in reconciling demands that seem in part contradictory: by focusing both on early academic learning and the wellbeing and independence of students; by thereby presenting itself as a pedagogy “of the elite” but one accessible to all and encouraging the success of the most disadvantaged; and, lastly, by reconciling modernity and religion.

The International Baccalaureate
The complex journey of a project, from Sèvres to Ecuador

Tristan Bunnell
The four programmes of the Geneva-registered International Baccalaureate (IB) now extend to almost 5,000 schools worldwide. Yet the IB as an “experiment in international education” in “international schools” was never intended for mass consumption, and its survival was not a given. This paper places an emphasis on two important conferences during the “first period” of the IB, which were held in Sèvres in 1967 and 1974. These conferences gave the IB a clear mandate to further grow and develop. The IB thus made inroads into public schooling in areas such as Florida and South Australia, and Ecuador now has the third biggest bloc of IB schools. However, the IB involves a number of “enduring tensions”. This paper focuses on the longstanding concern for geographical balance, plus the emerging view that the IB can act as a divisive force, competing for parental attention within national school systems.

Religious schools in Europe
The reasons for their success

Michael S. Merry
Les écoles confessionnelles continuent de jouir d’une grande popularité en Europe, en dépit du fort déclin de l’appartenance et de la pratique religieuse depuis la fin des années 1960.
Religious schools in Europe continue to be quite popular, notwithstanding a sharp decline in religious affiliation and practice since the late 1960s. This article examines the reasons for this success. It first examines a number of recent developments that have affected the constituency of these schools and the political issues surrounding them. Second, it considers a number of well-supported empirical reasons for this choice by parents. Finally, it examines other reasons for preferring religious schools, in particular situations of segregation experienced by children. Cultural and religious minorities, this article suggests, are currently turning to religious schools because they address their children’s needs, whereas the alternatives either fail to do so, or else exclude their children altogether.

The diversification of Peru’s education system
Towards unevenly joined-up education provision?

Martín Santos
Researchers and policymakers agree that the quality of public education in Peru has deteriorated. The state has set itself the goal of remedying this situation. Yet the topography of Peru’s education system for compulsory and higher education displays significant diversification in education provision both within the state and private sector. Is this fragmentation differentiated, giving rise to self-focused and disconnected educational entities, or rather a form of differentiation combined with different levels of linkage between the parties involved? And do these dynamics accentuate or attenuate stratification? This article shows that in spite of deep stratification and strong segregation within the private and public sectors, an asymmetrical and multi-scale (local, national, global) linkage does exist between the parties involved in the system, inflected by relations of power and domination.

Education policies in the United States
Between privatization and public investment

Frank Adamson
US education policymakers are currently deliberating between two approaches to improving school quality: market-based systems that privatize school management, and capacity-building approaches that deepen public investments. This article analyses policies, practices and outcomes of jurisdictions employing these two approaches: New Orleans and Massachusetts. In New Orleans, privatizing education through charter schools has increased competition between schools, but also increased stratification and segregation of students, while test scores remain low. Using a public investment approach, Massachusetts equitably funded schools, expanded learning time, and provided stronger preparation for teachers; it leads the nation on national assessment of education progress (NAEP) across subjects.

Private schools in Scandinavia
Public regulation and fragmentation

Signe Bock Segaard
This article analyses regulations and public policies on private education at primary and lower secondary level in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The article aims to investigate how far and in what ways public regulations condition fragmentation in the private school systems. We find considerable similarity between the public policies of the three countries. However, significant differences are identified too, especially concerning the degree of latitude accorded to private actors. The article argues that, in cases where private schools enjoy a high degree of latitude, this results in greater fragmentation of objectives and outcomes as well as in terms of educational practices and forms of schooling. Finally, the article discusses political and historical traditions as underlying explanations for why national policies differ.

The “territorialization” of educational policies in France
Some recurring tensions

Daniel Frandji
This article aims to question two recent measures that have relaunched the process known as “territorializing” education policies in France: the latest reform to the priority education policy, and another that has been presented as a reform of the school day and school week, coupled with the rolling out of Territorial Education Projects. Even though these two measures emanate from a common government policy, they arise from very different, or indeed contradictory, philosophies. Combining a different role for the state, distinct forms of problematization and rather divergent conceptions of justice, each in its own way feeds into the process of fragmentation of education provision.

Fragmentation of education provision and reform of religious education in Senegal
The difficult reconciliation between Western and Islamic modernities

Jean-Émile Charlier, Sarah Croché, Oana Marina Panait
Until now, efforts to integrate the public school and Koranic school systems have all failed in Senegal, which has contributed to entrenching the fragmentation of education provision. These two school systems are based upon very coherent conceptions of education, bound up with premises that that nothing can bring together. Starting from the analysis of three plans to reform religious education implemented since the 2000s, this article hypothesizes that rival conceptions of the suitable way to educate Senegalese children advocated by public and Koranic schools respectively draw upon the precepts of Western modernity and Islamic modernity, which radically complicates their reconciliation.

History of the South Korean education system
Recurring tensions between egalitarian and differentiated education

Chae-chun Gim
In Korea, the pendulum of educational policies has always swung between “equal education” for all and “differentiated education” corresponding to students’ abilities. The high school standardization policy, introduced in 1974, has been strongly criticized for failing to satisfy students’ various needs while downgrading the quality of education. Since the 1980s a variety of measures have been taken to gradually adopt elements of differentiation in the education system: schools that respect students’ right to choose and specialized high “schools” (1980s); independent private schools (1990); international schools (2010s). Initiatives have also been taken within schools themselves, such as differentiated curricula and “specialist subject pathways” in generalist high schools. This movement in favour of differentiated education, which has succeeded the policy to standardize schools, has created forms of fragmentation in education provision, whether at the inter- or intra-school level.

The authors

Bibliographic references
Bernadette Plumelle

Sommaire

Resúmenes


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